Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication
“Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication” — Leonardo DaVinci.
“If I had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter.” - Mark Twain,
It’s one of favourite quotes because it’s really true and rather deep. However, it goes against our normal behaviour.
Humans tend to gravitate towards complexity. There has been a lot of studies on this phenomenon, and while researchers have many possible explanations, I believe it comes down to the basic fact that we assume that something complex is better, works better, and therefore is the best choice.
To a large in extent, it's the consequence of the company's success. The broader your software, the more people are using it and pressuring designers of the software to move in different directions. So the overall complexity keeps growing.
When we’re dealing with physical products (like cars, planes, etc…) and software that is often true. And, guess what? We, humans, are intelligent beings, but we’re lazy, so instead of analysing each situation on it’s own we tend to use heuristics.
“Where you give software developers a choice of doing the simple thing or the more complicated thing, they go for the more complicated thing, because there’s more reward for doing it. They’ll say ‘Anybody can do simple stuff. The complicated stuff, only we can do.’”
This is great because it saves us a lot of thinking. However, it also has downsides. Since we believe that complex stuff is better when we are presented with two solutions, one complex and one simple. We go with the complex one.
For example, if you want to grow your business, you might find that having an online sales funnel is one of the best ways to grow. And when presented with a complex funnel vs a simple one. You’d choose the complex one.
It’s only normal. You’re human.
Fact: “Make it simple and people won’t buy. Given a choice, they will take the item that does more. Features win over simplicity, even when people realize that it is accompanied by more complexity. You are among such customers. Haven’t you ever compared two products side by side, comparing the features of each, preferring the one that did more? ”
Marketers know that. And, they sell all kinds of complex solutions. They might argue that you need a complex funnel with hundreds of articles, dozens of entry points, 9 lead magnets, 23 content upgrades, 3 tripwires, upsells, down sells, one-time-offers, webinar sequences, quizzes with 24 outcomes, challenges, and a whole lot more.
“What people are really buying is a good experience. Sometimes simple is good, and sometimes complex is good, depending on what a good experience is in a given context.”
It doesn’t work? It does. But the problem with that is that you’d be putting yourself in a lot more stress and frustrations unnecessarily. There is a time for everything.
It’s a linear progression and it takes away the stress and frustrations of these complex solutions that everybody is selling.
Trade-offs between Features and Simplicity
Let’s consider this insight as it relates to the simplicity problem. Users face a trade-off when they must make a choice between a simple product or a complex product with more features. If they choose the product with fewer features and eventually need some functionality that is missing, they’ve made a bad choice. However, when users choose the complex product with more features, they don’t have to make this trade-off. The complex product is more likely to have the feature users may need in the future.
People are reluctant to make trade-offs because they can’t predict what functionality they will need in the future. Choosing a product with fewer features is a trade-off that could hurt them down the line. When users don’t understand the advantages of each feature.
When users choose a feature-laden product, they may not be exhibiting a desire for complexity. Instead, users are anxious about predicting their future needs. The black/white distinction of “choosing complexity over simplicity” seems too blunt an instrument to describe the behavior we see from users. People in this type of situation don’t know enough about the features of a product or their own needs. The result is that users avoid making a trade-off by choosing the one that looks like it has more features.
Is Software Simplicity a good choice in the future?
On the other hand, you can choose to have a very simple funnel. One simple process that eventually leads to clients on pilot.
That’s exactly what our software engineers did with Odoo Customization for Vietnamese and Japanese clients. We’ve purposefully made it very simple to follow. I’ve stripped out all the fat from the complex systems and kept all the essentials so that it still works amazingly well.
When software gets too complex, your business can suffer. That’s why we made Odoo-based ERP simple to deploy, simple to manage, and simple to use. But don’t take our word for it—take a look at how global enterprise companies chose Odoo over SAP to simplify their operations, drive cost savings, and increase business agility.
Odoo - ERP for SMEs and SMBs
The ability to deliver simplicity is one of key dimensions that characterize a business solution from Odoo.
Later this year, Odoo 16 will become available. This release is one example of how Odoo solutions for SMBs combine simplicity with a powerful set of capabilities to help your people make sense of the business and get more done faster—to work more productively.
Take the next step
Opting for simplicity in your business solutions doesn’t mean settling for complexity, or for limited analytical capabilities and generic views of the company. Quite the contrary, simplicity opens the door for your people to concentrate on the really important aspects of their jobs—the analyses, decisions, and actions that help you gain greater control, improve margins, and stimulate growth in the company.
If simplicity is achieved at the expense of capability, is the result worth it? Solutions that achieve ease of use by over-simplifying your business processes and operational methods aren’t likely to deliver genuine value, either. Business solutions shouldn’t require your people to spend excessive time sifting through mountains of data or generic reports to assemble the information they need to do their jobs. This could keep them from spending enough time on activities that really optimize daily business operations, increase profitability, and stimulate growth.
Simplicity isn’t a bad design goal; complexity isn’t a good one.
In other words, the experience of buying a product is more than just how the product looks. The larger process of buying, trying out, reading the box, and talking to the salesperson also comes into play.